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Lagavulin 16 Year

Lagavulin 16 Year


** 2 PER CUSTOMER!! Lagavulin might well be the most iconic of Islay malts. And the distillery, which celebrated its bicentennial in 2016, is unquestionably one of the most beloved of all Scotch malt producers. Up until the launch of the much-lauded 8 year old in 2016, the 16 year old was the distillery’s entry level expression. In spite of the new arrival, however, the 16 remains the flagship expression in the range, and for good reason. A cornerstone in any whisky collection. 90pts Serge @WhiskyFun

750ml ml
Region:Scotland > Islay
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Tasting Note by Serge Valentin, WhiskyFun 

"Some good friends would claim that the 16 is going down but to be honest, I've always heard that and last time I tried it (it was a +/-2019) I enjoyed it rather a lot. The very early 'Classic Malts' were rather superior indeed in my book (late 1980s, early 1990s) but since those glorious days, things have remained relatively consistent. We'll do this quickly. Colour: gold. Nose: impeccably tarry and rubbery, with this feeling of unpacking a new scuba diving suit (I've seen some would say a new SM outfit but I'm lacking experience). Then oranges and walnuts from the sherry, seawater, dried kelp, black olive brine, lapsang souchong and lit cigar. I find this impeccable and very, guess what, 'Lagavulin 16'. Mouth: absolutely excellent. Bright and rich, tarry, with excellent sherriness, liquorice, salt, olives, marmalade… It's even got something refreshing. Finish: smoke and olives, touches of curry and cardamom. Perfect. Comments: Lagavulin 16 is my go-to malt whenever I'm at a restaurant or a bar that's not a 'whisky bar'. I think I'll maintain that tradition. An exquisite batch, perhaps a little less 'sweet' than earlier recent offerings. BFYB. SGP:467 - 90 points."

Producer Tasting Note

Nose: Intensely flavoured, peat smoke with iodine and seaweed and a rich, deep sweetness.

Palate: Dry peat smoke fills the palate with a gentle but strong sweetness, followed by sea and salt with touches of wood.

Finish: A long, elegant peat-filled finish with lots of salt and seaweed.

Lagavulin Distillery is nestled between Laphroaig and Ardbeg, on the southern coast of the Scottish Isle of Islay. The Queen of the Hebrides, as Islay is known, played a seminal role in the history of Scotland and the United Kingdom. The Lords of the Isles ruled the west coast of Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland from Islay, independent of England, Scotland and Denmark, for nearly four centuries, until 1493. After their defeat, the title ‘Lord of the Isles’ was incorporated into the Scottish, and eventually British, Royal Families. In addition to being the Prince of Wales, Charles is also Lord of the Isles.

The base of power for the Lords of the Isles was set on two tiny islands in Loch Finlaggan, not far from Port Askaig, in the north of the island. But Islay’s southern shore was also a power center. Remnants of this history can be seen at the haunting Kildalton Chapel, where a well-preserved 8th Century Celtic Cross was found. The coast is rugged and dotted with small, sheltered bays, including the one which protects Lagavulin. At the entrance to that bay, the ruins of the once impregnable Dunyvaig Castle can still be seen.

Lagavulin translates from Scots Gaelic to the Mill Hollow and is believed to be one of the oldest settlements on the island. Lagavulin Distillery was officially established in 1816, but there is some evidence of no fewer than 10 small illicit distilleries operating in bothies on or near the site as early as the 1740s. The Victorian whisky writer Alfred Barnard references a smuggling fraternity operating in the area as early as 1742. By 1816 the various operations had merged into a pair of side-by-side distilleries, Lagavulin and Ardmore, both of which had gone legit.

The Johnson family, founders of Lagavulin, acquired Ardmore in 1825 and by 1837 had absorbed it into the Lagavulin complex. The distillery began to attract wider acclaim in 1862 after it was purchased by the Blender Logan Mackie. Logan’s nephew Peter Mackie would become one of the pivotal figures in the Scotch whisky industry of the late 19th Century. Peter Mackie took charge of Lagavulin in 1878 and would also go on to establish the Craigellachie Distillery and found the White Horse blend.

In addition to Lagavulin, Mackie also represented the nearby Laphroaig Distillery, situated just two miles down the coast in another small bay. When this relationship ended in 1906 Mackie was incensed. He set about building a nearly perfect replica of Laphroaig at Lagavulin, and even poached a few of its employees. The new distillery was called Malt Mill, and while the heavily phenolic whisky was of good quality, the gamble never quite paid off; at least not in the way Mackie had hoped. Try as he might he just could not quite replicate Laphroaig. Malt Mill ceased production in 1962 and has never been seen as a single malt.

In 1927 White Horse Distillers, including Lagavulin, became part of DCL, a forbearer of Diageo, the world’s largest drinks company. The whisky was selected by the firm as one of its six Classic Malts in 1988, giving birth to Lagavulin 16 Year. A famous whisky writer, Michael Jackson, referred to it as the Aristocrat of Islay, for its elegant smoky profile. Incidentally, this was the whisky which got me interested in Scotch, and it remains a benchmark by which other mature Islay whiskies are still measured today.

In addition to the 16 Year there are annual releases of Lagavulin Distillers Edition (finished in PX Sherry) and a 12 Year Cask Strength. The most recent edition to the core range is an 8 Year, first released as a limited edition in 2016 to celebrate the distillery’s 200th Anniversary. It is a feistier expression, inspired by Alfred Barnard’s visit to the distillery in 1880s.

Lagavulin is open to the public for tours and tastings. If you decide to visit, I recommend taking the warehouse tour. It is worth the additional cost. And while there, do not pass up the opportunity to wander out to the Dunyvaig castle. The view looking back at the distillery is worth the walk!

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